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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman

We Are All Made Of Stars

Warning. You are going to need a lot of tissues for this one.

‘We Are All Made Of Stars’ is a very emotional read. It is largely set in a hospice where people are facing the end of their days, so death and its coming are a significant theme. But it is also about love and, in particular, about finding love in impossible places.

It’s also about how the way we experience the world is different at night under the moon and the stars, from how it is in the full light of the sun. And about how people (and cats) can turn up in our lives just at the moment they are most needed.

We follow three overlapping story strands throughout the book. Stella is a nurse working nights at the hospice, sharing her house in shifts with a husband who has come back from Afghanistan so damaged she fears she can’t reach him. Hope is a young woman with CF. She knows her life is fragile, but can she reach out and make the most of it? And Hugh is just lost. What will it take to help him find himself again?

As well as these main storylines we get glimpses of the lives of some of Stella’s patients through the ‘last letters’ she writes for them before they die. Letters from husbands to wives, from fathers to sons, from lovers to those they’ve loved and lost a long time ago. Some are as short as a page, but they encapsulate the lives of the senders perfectly in their last moments.

So yes, it is about death and loss on one level, but it’s also about finding love and fighting for it. And about how we find the light - by looking up.

You will cry, but you will also be left feeling very grateful for the life and the love that you have. I highly recommend this skilfully written and achingly beautiful book. But don’t forget the tissues.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Double Tap by Hania Allen

Double Tap

‘Double Tap’ is a complex, fast moving and very satisfying crime novel. The main character, Von Valenti, is ex-Police and now working as a Private Detective. She thinks she’s working on a missing person case, but when her path crosses that of a colleague from her Police days who is investigating a double murder she starts to realise there is a whole lot more to it than that.

I loved the characters in this book. Von herself is complex; caught between the demands of her job, the demands of her errant daughter and the desire to have some sort of life for herself. And the relationship between Von and her former police colleague, who is more than a little bit in love with her, is brilliant.

The author has also made great use of setting. Edinburgh forms the backdrop of the story and is a character in its own right as Von gets deeper into both her own missing person case and the investigation of the professional hit style ‘double tap’ murders. The case takes her into a paintballing club and a gun club, and brings her up against some very unpleasant characters.

 I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interesting in a slightly unusual crime novel with an interesting premise, robust characters and a great setting.

This book is the second in a series featuring Von Valenti. I haven’t read the first, but suspect it is also pretty good!

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.